Where to stay in Varanasi

Arriving at the JUKASO GANGES HOTEL by boat, on a first time ever visit to Varansi was spectacular.

As we made our way downstream from Raj Ghat, the exciting panorama of life along the Ganges unfolding before our eyes, we slowed down in front of an elegant building, snugly fitting in between Ganesh Ghat and Bhosale Ghat, and set a little bit back from the river.

Our hotel.

The Hotel only opened in early 2012, and indeed not all of the planned 15 rooms were ready at the time of our visit (1-3 April 2012), but the hotel promises to be a little jewel when it is completed.

Our rooms were deliciously cool (a blessed relief from the 40C temperatures), well appointed, and those facing the river have views to die for.  Good bathrooms.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, staying up late and serving us dinner without a murmur when we returned after 10.30pm one evening, ladened with shopping after a long foray into the bazaars.

Any little glitches –  and they were only little ones –  were dealt with promptly.

The location of the hotel  –  quite a distance up river from the main Assi Ghat area –  means either walking or taking a boat to go down to the busier ghats.  It also means the hotel is quieter.  The walk along the river is fascinating, along a wide, well maintained walkway, and to go up and down the Ganges by boat is a total delight.  Just tell the hotel, and they will arrange a boat whenever you need it.

The only possible criticism –  though that is too strong a word – would be the location of the restaurant.

The restaurant is very small, and located on the top floor, involving a climb up 2 flights of stairs (the lift only goes up to the 3rd floor, so the occupants of the 2 rooms on the 4th floor always have an extra floor to climb).  I doubt the restuarant could hold all guests at the same time, once the hotel is running at full capacity, because that would ideally be 30 covers.

The chef told us that in the winter some guests will be able to eat on the outdoor terrace, which has an admittedly fabulous view.

But there are monkeys, so that issue will have to be tackled.

Despite air conditioning and a fan, the restaurant was very hot, mainly because the large picture windows have no curtains or blinds, so the summer sun was beating down remorselessly. Chick blinds are a must.

But this comment apart, our stay was an utter delight.

The proof of the pudding ?  We made reservations to return in the winter.

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